BJP Kerala President P S Sreedharan Pillai was booked on Thursady by the police for his speech in connection with Sabarimala protests on a day when the saffron party launched a "Rath Yatra" for "protecting" the Lord Ayyappa temple's traditions and rituals.
The case was registered by police in Kozhikode on a complaint by journalist Shybin alleging that Pillai had instigated activists to protest over entry of menstrual age women into the hill shrine recently, police said.
Reacting to it, Pillai, accused the CPI(M) and Congress of 'witch hunting' and trying to 'tarnish' his image.
The development came even as the BJP-NDA embarked on a Rath yatra from Kasaragod to "protect" the traditions and rituals of the hill shrine at Sabarimala, which recently witnessed violent protests against the entry of women of in the 10-50 age group.
BJP, which has been desperately trying to make its presence felt in the bi-polar political scenario of Kerala, has lent its support to the agitation against the LDF government's decision to implement the Supreme Court order allowing women of all ages to offer prayers at the temple.
Pillai and Tushar Vellapally, leader of BDJS, an ally of the NDA in Kerala, are leading the 'Sabarimala Samrakshana Rath Yatra' from Kasaragod to Erumeli, which was flagged off by senior BJP leader and former Karnataka chief minister B S Yeddyurappa.
The Kerala government should "apply its mind" and show seriousness to resolve the impasse at Sabarimala, Yeddyurappa said.
"We are not against the SC verdict. But sentiments of the people should be respected by one and all," he said.
Police said Pillai has been booked under section 505 (1) (B) of IPC (intent to incite or which is likely to incite persons to commit any offence), a non-cognizable offence, in connection with his November 4 address to BJP Yuva Morcha workers in Kozhikide.
TV channels last week aired a video clip in which Pillai had purportedly said the Sabarimala agitations were "planned and orchestrated" by the party as part of its "agenda" and was a "golden opportunity" for the saffron party.
He had also said that Tantri Kandararu Rajeevaru (Head Priest) of the Lord Ayyappa temple had sought his opinion on closing the sanctum sanctorum to prevent women of menstrual age from entering the shrine when it opened from Oct 17-22, kicking up a huge row.
Meanwhile, the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB), which manages the Ayyappa shrine, has sought an explanation from the tantri, but made it clear that the procedure was just a formality as the head priest had already rejected the claim of Pillai.
Addressing the workers at Mathur in Kasaragod, Pillai Thursday hit out at the CPI(M), alleging that it was trying to destroy the Sabarimala temple since the past 60 years.
The main opposition Congress also launched a yatra from Kasaragod to Pathnamthitta led by its state unit working president K Sudhakaran against the "politicisation" of the Sabarimala issue by the CPI(M) and BJP.
Similar yatras will also be taken out by several Congress leaders from Alapuzha, Thiruvananthapuram, Thodupuzha and Palakkad in the coming days which will culminate on November 15 at Pathnamthitta, in which district the shrine is located.
Taking a dig, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said some people have started the two yatras. "We do not know where and when the two processions will join together."
He asserted that the Left Democratic Front government was totally with the believers.
However, it would not tolerate any attempts to create trouble.
Kerala has been on a boil after the September 28 Supreme Court verdict permitting women of all age groups into the Sabarimala temple with right wing and Hindu outfits on a warpath over the state government's decision to go ahead and implement the top court verdict.
The hill shrine had recently witnessed protests by devotees against the attempt by some young women, including journalists, to enter the temple.
The day also saw the Kerala High Court coming down on the recent agitation at Sabarimala.
Justice Sunil Thomas termed the violence as "unjustifiable" and agreed with the state's contention that the protests and violence at the hill shrine and its key entry points were against the apex court directives.
"Agitations are unjustifiable," the court said while dismissing a bail application filed by Govind Madhusoodan of Thrippunithura, who was arrested in connection with clashes with the police at Nilackal near Pamba when the temple doors were opened for monthly puja last month.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)